The Premature Exit project explores reasons Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) consumers leave the system before completing services. The project involves two phases. Phase one was an exploratory qualitative study (n=27) of VR consumers who left the system for “failure to cooperate” or “refused services” reasons. Findings identified three distinct factors that caused early exit from the program. First, data suggested that there was a mismatch between the rates, timing and structure of contacts between counselors and some clients. Second, many clients reported leaving because the pace of service delivery was too slow and they did not make adequate progress towards securing employment. Third, some clients reported discrepancies between services promised and provided within the VR process.
These findings are important because they provide a foundation for better understanding the reasons for early exit and developing strategies to reduce consumer “drop out” from the VR program. Premature exit is costly for both VR agencies and clients. For agencies, 2009 RSA data indicate that VR programs spent over $326 million on clients who did not complete services, an underestimate of true costs because program administration costs, staff salaries, and services provided by the rehabilitation program are not directly billed on an individual consumer basis. For consumers, premature exit has been correlated with worse economic outcomes when compared to those who stay and become employed (Hayward & Schmidt-Davis, 2003).
Qualitative results informed the development of a survey for studying consumer progression through VR services and barriers and facilitators present within the VR process. We are currently collecting the final wave of data in our two-year prospective study of 226 VR consumers. Preliminary data indicate several factors contributing to consumer dissatisfaction and early exit. For instance, consumers who did not achieve an employment closure and left the VR system within 6 to 9 months of entering the program were less satisfied with a variety of counseling components (such as counselor: listens to your concerns; follows through on promised services; makes time to meet with you; returns phone calls and/or email messages in a timely manner, etc.) than clients who remained in the system.
- Project dates: 2008-2013
- Funded by: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Grant No. H133B080023
- Principal staff: Catherine Ipsen, Ph.D., Becca Goe, M.A., Bethany Rigles, M.A.
- Related projects: